It’s been three years now since Melbourne entrepreneur Robert Murray launched a humble iOS game that rocketed both himself and his company to international stardom.
But yesterday, Murray’s entrepreneurial career reached new heights when he was invited by Apple president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller to demonstrate his company’s new game on stage at the tech giant’s iPhone 5 launch.
Such an invitation is a huge honour. Developers chosen to present at Apple announcements are picked after a careful process, and must practise their delivery consistently until they have every line memorised. Some are even culled at the last moment – but being chosen to present not only gives an app special prominence, but almost always assures good sales.
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Murray was invited to show off his company’s new game, Real Racing 3.
Robert Murray founded Firemint in 1999, slowly building a small team, earning its keep through work-for-hire from larger, offshore video game publishers. But when that work began to dry up after the global financial crisis, Murray turned to the App Store.
Firemint’s first game, Flight Control, was and remains a rousing success. It earned nearly $1 million in just six months, and over its lifespan helped Firemint boost its revenue into several million dollars.
Flight Control became one of the first runaway hits in the App Store and was in the top charts for months.
In a 2009 interview with SmartCompany, Murray said the company wanted to experiment with whether high quality titles could find a life on the iPhone at a sustainable price. The company’s “Real Racing” series has proven that can work – the games have sold millions of downloads.
Since that time, Firemint has grown from strength to strength.
It acquired Melbourne developer Infinite Interactive, and last year Firemint itself was acquired by video game giant EA. Then, earlier this year, EA merged Firemint with its other Melbourne mobile studio, IronMonkey Studios, to create Firemonkeys.
Murray’s presentation is not only an affirmation of Firemint’s growth from a one-man operation to international success, but also how taking risks on new business models can pay off in the long term.